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Jammu and Kashmir may see a ‘third front’ ahead of assembly polls

A new political front comprising some regional outfits of Jammu and Kashmir, barring the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is likely to take shape ahead of the upcoming assembly polls.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2019 23:35 IST
Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kashmir,third front,assembly
Former Congress leader and president Jammu Kashmir Bachao Tehreek Abdul Gani Vakil along with party workers joined People’s Conference in presence of its chairman Sajad Gani Lone during a press conference in Srinagar recently. (ANI)

A new political front comprising some regional outfits of Jammu and Kashmir, barring the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is likely to take shape ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in the state, according to a few leaders with knowledge of the development.

Likely to be named ‘Third Front’, the coalition could also attract disgruntled leaders of both the PDP and the NC who are waiting for an option to contest the assembly elections from an anti-Congress and anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front, said a former MLA who could be a part of the new front.

The PDP-BJP coalition government in the state collapsed in June last year. In November, the Election Commission (EC) had said fresh elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which is currently under President’s Rule, would be held within the next six months, even as the poll panel did not rule out the possibility of holding the state polls before the Lok Sabha elections.

According to the former MLA cited above, former minister and head of Democratic Nationalist Party, Ghulam Hassan Mir, former minister and head of Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) Hakeem Yaseen and Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary and former MLA from Kulgam, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami have held several meetings and discussed about the formation of the new front.

Former minister Abdul Gani Vakil who had resigned from the Congress after Ghulam Ahmad Mir was appointed J&K Congress president was reportedly also in touch with the trio until he joined Sajjad Ghani Lone-led People’s Conference last week.

Another former minister and senior PDP leader, Dilwar Mir, also held deliberations with these three leaders and discussed the possibility of an alternative front in J&K, said a former PDP leader from north Kashmir. Dilwar Mir whose son Yawar Mir was the PDP legislator from north Kashmir’s Rafiabad assembly segment, and a relative of former minister Altaf Bukhari who was recently expelled from the PDP, is believed to be unhappy with the party leadership.

Some leader’s privy to parleys said that pace of the formation of new front has deliberately been kept slow. “In the last [2014] elections also, efforts were made to cobble up an alliance that could capture seven to 10 seats and act as a pressure group. But it didn’t materialise. This time, the chances of forming a third front are very bright,’’ said the former legislator who could also be a part of the new front.

Former minister, Ghulam Hassan Mir who was legislator from Gulmarg constituency from 2002 to 2014 and served as minister in the PDP-Congress [2002-2006] and then Congress- NC [2009-2014] coalition government said that there is a need of an alternative front and talks are underway.

‘’We are meeting people but it will be premature to say whether this front will take shape or not. At an appropriate time we will come up with our plans. We are in touch with people who are disgruntled with the NC, PDP and other parties. They all could join us and become part of us,” he added.

Veteran politician Yousuf Tarigami said that some leaders are coming together and will try if anything new could be offered to people of the state. “The debate and discussions are going on,’’ he said.

“In my point of view, all regional parties have a role to play. Kashmir is a political problem and needs a political approach. The BJP and the PDP have worsened the crisis and aggravated things in the state,’’ Tarigami added.

Former minister Hakeem Yaseen said that like-minded people are in touch and the aim is to bring good people in the new dispensation. “In the next 10 to 15 days, there will be a good news,’’ he said adding that people in J&K want change. “This alternative front will have leaders from all regions of J&K.’’

Politicians such as former PDP leaders Haseeb Drabu, Altaf Bukhari and Javeed Mustafa have not joined any political party and kept their options open.

Some political analysts, however, see this development as an “attempt to divide the vote bank”. “Why new fronts and parties come up in Kashmir only, why not in other regions of the state?’’ asked Irfan Ahmad, who teaches in Central University, Kashmir.

First Published: Jan 29, 2019 23:26 IST